(Reuters) - Barcelona’s record-breaking teenage sensation Ansu Fati has the ability and character to make an impact against Real Madrid in Wednesday’s ‘Clasico’ at the Camp Nou, says club great Carles Puyol.
Fati became Barca’s youngest-ever league scorer in August when he netted against Osasuna aged 16 and last week became the youngest scorer in Champions League history by striking the winning goal in a 2-1 victory over Inter Milan.
With Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann fit for the Real match -- which was rescheduled from its original date of Oct. 26 due to political unrest in Catalonia -- Fati is unlikely to start the game but could prove a secret weapon from the bench.
“He could definitely make a difference, every time he has been called upon he has delivered and shown his level,” Puyol told Reuters in an interview organised by the Danone Nations Cup tournament.
“Of course a ‘Clasico’ is always a unique and special game but if he has the opportunity to play I’m convinced he will do a very good job.”
The fearless forward, who turned 17 on Oct. 31, was born in Guinea Bissau and joined Barca’s academy aged 10.
Injuries catapulted him into the first team this campaign and he caused an instant stir, scoring in a 2-2 draw at Osasuna and thrilling the Camp Nou with a goal and assist in a 5-2 win over Valencia.
If he features against Real, he will become the youngest player to play in a ‘Clasico’ in 78 years, while a goal would make him the youngest scorer in the fixture ahead of Messi, who netted for the first time against Real aged 19.
“He has been in the youth system for many years and we knew he had qualities but you never know how a player is going to respond when you give them the opportunity in the first team but he has carried himself with astonishing ease,” added Puyol, who is currently working on his own player education programme.
“The club has to make sure he takes each step at a time and doesn’t get burned out or burdened with pressure, and if they manage him correctly they will have a stunning player for many years to come.”
Puyol, like Fati, Messi, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets, came through the club’s famed ‘La Masia’ academy and spent his entire career at Barca.
He lifted 18 trophies with the Catalans including six La Liga titles and three Champions League titles, as well as winning Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup with Spain before retiring in 2014.
Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge
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